Travelling Iran was on my bucket list for several years before I found a friend with the same ambition to go there. This year in April the time had finally come and off we went on a 12 day adventure.
Teheran: 1,5 days —> night train to —> Yazd: 1,5 days —> 0,5 day travelling to —> Shiraz: 2 days —> 0,5 day bus to Esfahan: 2 days —> 0,5 day bus to —> Kashan: 0,5 day —> 0,5 bus to —> Teheran
Getting from A to B: Don’t be shy and book the night train to Yazd. Sleeping wagons are basic and bathroom next to non existent but it is an experience I wouldn’t want to miss.
After that lovely train ride experience go ahead and spoil yourself with a bus ride in one of the VIP busses (advantages: when travelling during the day, you see a lot of the country, the bus tickets are fairly cheap, snacks on the bus are included in the ticket price, seats are extremely comfy).
Yazd: Wander around the narrow streets. Visit the local bazaar and make sure to climb on a rooftop to enjoy an amazing view over the city. Cafe Irani next to Jame Mosque serves food and tea on the rooftop terrace. Yazd is also known for it’s sweets – go for the famous crispy coconut cookies. DELICIOUS!
Shiraz: For me the ‘must see’ in Shiraz is the Shah Cheragh Mosque and the bazaar (ok, by now you’ve figured out that I love shopping, right? ;-) )
Esfahan: My absolut favourite city in Iran. Best place, where locals meet tourist (and it is not that many yet) is the Naghshe Jahan Square, you’ll find several mosques and lots of shops (mainly for tourists).
Kashan: One of the best bazaar’s we’ve seen. Have lunch in a Hamam modified to a teahouse.
Food: Most famous dish I’d say is Kebab, so you should definitely give it a try. My favourite dish was everything with eggplant, especially Borani Bademjan (Eggplant & Yoghurt Dip) with bread. Also very nice are Koofteh, Persian rice balls.
Practical tips and what I’d prepare better before going again:
Coffee: If I’d known the coffee situation beforehand, I’d brought Nescafé
Visa: If you can organize it before travelling to Iran, you should do it.
Clothes: Make sure you have enough wide and comfortable clothes with you. And for female travellers, don’t forget to bring headscarves.
Overall the experience travelling in Iran was amazing. What I’ll never forget is the friendly and welcoming manner of the Iranian people. The willingness to understand us, help us and connect with us as two female travellers (a rather strange concept to a lot of people).
I do now understand why most of the travellers write and say, it is very different to what everybody expects or has in mind when talking about Iran. All the reports I’ve read beforehand told stories about friends and family wondering about the sanity of the explorer sharing his/her travel plans to visit Iran and for me that was no different. It was my first off the beaten tourist track experience and I’m so glad I took the chance.
To all of you out there – happy travels, bon voyage, gute Reise!